Our provincial overlords have issued a RFP for the delivery of Internet service to the 31,000 underserved households on PEI. This is a commendable goal for what is generally deemed an essential service. Before we get to excited we should note this is only a RFP. When our overlords see the actual cost to bring true high speed access I suspect they will pucker and back off quickly. It IS an expensive process.
I caution our overlords:
Watch out for the usual sharks and carpet baggers who will swarm to suckle the government teat. Slick consultants will roll off the Toronto flight with their styled hair, $1,000 suits and big square leather briefcases. They add nothing to the process.
Avoid satellite service as a solution. Despite what you will be told, it does not work well. I have used it. It is awful – when it works.
If there is a winner, and there could be more than one, build in an enforceable penalty when they do not deliver as promised.
Demand that any winner subscribe to a policy of net neutrality. Be prepared to audit and enforce.
Be cautious of small community driven builds that do not partner with some of the big players. This is a complex demanding technology that requires expertise that communities typically will not have.
Demand that service of the network be Canada based. Demand that local technicians be domiciled in PEI.
Impose reasonable service standards. If a subscriber needs service mandate reasonable response times.
(Xplornet LTE service is an excellent example of how this can and should be done.)
Be cautious of acceptable use policies (AUP) which place unreasonable bandwidth usage caps. With higher speed access the data usage will increase drastically in typical households. When my household went from slow DSL to higher speed LTE my monthly data usage jumped from 7 gigs to over 200 gigs monthly. My monthly cap with Xplornet is 500 gigs and I expect when Winter overtakes us I will approach the monthly cap. Absolutely prohibit the blocking of certain types of data traffic.
Currently fibre to the home will provide the best service but will probably prove to cost more than our overlords can afford to subsidize.
Demand that any solution be future proof. What works today will be obsolete soon.
Our overlords have only one chance to get it right. Throwing taxpayer money to a system that under performs or is unreliable is a waste of OUR dollars and a guarantee of frustration.
I am not being negative. I think this is a worthy initiative and one I enthusiastically support. Having more than a little knowledge of building networks and the potential pitfalls I am merely being cautious. This initiative has the benefit of potentially bringing an essential service to under serviced area and will be politically popular in those areas.